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Wii U console

Wii U controller

New Super Mario Bros. Mii

Wii U controller used in 5-player gaming
The Wii U features an innovative controller with a built-in 6.2" screen

Nintendo's Wii was a smash hit when it launched in 2006 and was sold out for months as buyers scrambled to get their hands on one. The Wii's sales streak continued for years until the downturn in the economy and competing motion-controlled accessories started making their way to more powerful consoles (Kinect on Xbox 360 and Move for the PlayStation 3).

I. The Wii U controller

Keeping this in mind, Nintendo is looking stay relevant in the home gaming console market and today announced its Wii successor: the Wii U. While the name isn't very imaginative at all, the Wii takes an intriguing new direction in controller design with a large, integrated 6.2" color LCD. The screen is flanked by two analog pads, a "cross" control pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons, and ZL/ZR buttons.

In addition, the controller features an accelerometer, gyroscope, rumble support, microphone, speakers, stylus, sensor strip, and a front-facing camera. Nintendo also says that in single-player mode, what is displayed on the controller's screen can change based on its orientation with the TV screen. Likewise, the controller can also display information that isn't readily available on the TV screen. 

For single-player games, it sounds like unnecessary complexity for gamers who will now have to divide their attention between a 6.2" display and a 42"+ HDTV, but we'll give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt with this one. After all, not many expected gamers to be receptive to Wii Remote + Nunchuk.

However, with multiplayer games, things get a bit more interesting. Nintendo showed a demo of a multiplayer game with four players using traditional Wii Remotes (4-player, split-screen). A fifth player was able to join in on the action with the new Wii U controller using the 6.2" display to keep up with the other players. Check out this video demonstration to see how the screen can be used in multiplayer.

While the new Wii U controller is the attention grabber today, the old Wii Remote/Remote Plus, Nunchuk, Classic Controller, and Balance Board are all supported by the new console.

II. The Wii U console

As for the console itself, it looks like a Wii that has bulked up a bit and gained a few more curves. The Wii U measures 10.5" in length, 6.8" in width, and 1.8" in height.
An IBM Power-based multi-core processor will power the console. We don't know how powerful this processor is, but the graphics don't really seem to impress at the moment and don't look much different from the current Wii (see game screenshots on the right).

Like the original Wii, it will debut in white (although there are sure to be other colors introduced down the road). The Wii U will output 1080p over HDMI (component, S-video, and composite connections will be available to those still stuck in the dark ages). 

When it comes to storage, the Wii U has an unspecified amount of onboard flash memory, a built-in Secure Digital slot (like the original Wii), and four USB 2.0 ports. USB thumb drives and external USB hard drives will be supported. It's unknown if the Wii U's optical drive will support DVD playback, but Nintendo would be pretty boneheaded to disable that feature like they did with North American Wii consoles.

Also, for those of you that have a stash of Wii games collecting dust on the shelf, they will also be playable on the Wii U.

“Wii U redefines the structure of home entertainment by fundamentally changing how the TV, the game console and the Internet function and interact together,” said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. “The experience enabled by Wii U and the new controller takes players deeper into their games, while reaching out wider than ever before to be inviting to all kinds of gamers.” 

Since the Wii U won't be released until 2012, the company isn't quite ready to reveal pricing at this time.

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Don't count them out.
By Smilin on 6/7/2011 4:13:41 PM , Rating: 2
I'm looking at that thing and just wondering if it will blend.

You could do some nifty video chat and add some clever touchscreen apps but for gaming I couldn't imagine having to hold that chunk of crap for any length of time.

BUT, I learned long ago not to count Nintendo out. They make some really fun stuff and have a loyal following.

So my opinion: So ugly you should kill it with fire but it will sell like hotcakes. Just watch.

RE: Don't count them out.
By Klober on 6/7/2011 6:27:12 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. I'm going to keep a close eye on this. Depending on how it looks closer to launch I'll probably end up buying as many as I can get my hands on and selling them on eBay for big time profit! :P

RE: Don't count them out.
By Aloonatic on 6/8/2011 3:33:11 AM , Rating: 2
I'll have to wait and see how much this costs, and how much a replacement tablet controller will cost too. I think my Wii is the only console I've had that I haven't had to replace at least 1 controller, but that's mostly because I hardly play on it than anything else. They often break and are not cheap to replace at the best of times.

One of the big things that made the Wii such a success was it's price. It was clearly the cheapest console out of the 3, and the wiimote was pretty sturdy.

The touch-screen controller looks pretty robust, and I'm sure that they have done plenty of testing, but I would still have reservations about handing it over to small children. There could be a lot of household arguments stemming from broken, and expensive to replace controllers.

Also, how heavy is it? The Wii was a big hit with the elderly, but I'm not sure that they will have the strength or stamina to be able to hold the touch-screen controller up and play with it for too long.

Some of the tablet/Wii integration looks good, but this seems like something that MS could get going on a windows phone with a little giggery-pokery, and Sony could get something going too I'd wager.

On the looks front, I've never really understood why people care all hat much. They are just boxes that sit under or by your TV and they are rarely works of art. The game cube was probably the best looking console I can think of.

Still, we'll have to wait and see, and I certainly wont count them out either as the above are just issues that I have based on the small amount of info there is out there and the videos that I've seen.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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